The Big Idea by Donny Deutsch

The Big Idea: How to Make Your Entrepreneurial Dreams Come True, From the Aha Moment to Your First Million by Donny Deutsch

LoTempio Law Blog Book Review
About the book

What’s “The Big Idea”? It’s a book by Donny Deutsch that profiles many of the successful entrepreneurs who have visited his CNBC talk show, “The Big Idea with Donny Deutsch.”

Donny shares the lessons they learned on their road to success. The entrepreneurial success stories are complemented by practical advice and resources for building a business.

The book is packed with checklist after checklist of characteristics and elements of things an inventor needs to do in order to turn “the big idea” into a million-dollar idea(the Donny’s dos).

My review of the book

Inventors are looking for a magic checklist of things to do in order to take their idea and turn it into a million-dollar idea. I read a few of the reviews on the Internet and it appears that some readers feel that the book is high on inspiration and doesn’t provide enough detailed information  to start a business. But I don’t think it’s meant to be a handbook with step-by-step directions on what to do, it is meant to provide inspiration and general utility.

If it was easy as just writing down the steps and blindly following the steps, everyone would be a millionaire. If there is one thing that I learned reading this book, it is that there’s no one right way to do it.

The process starts in that ordinary moment of clarity when you say, “There’s gotta be a better way.” It’s the moment when you ask, “How can I solve this problem?

Donny says you have two choices:

  1. You can muddle through and keep doing it the same way, or
  2. You can find a better way.

The Big Idea has put the spotlight on that “moment of clarity” and the people who have the courage and stamina to make their dreams come true.

A carpenter gets tired of almost losing a finger every time he slices a bagel. Bam! The Bagel Guillotine. A mother is frustrated that her pantry is full of stale food because the packages don’t close. Bam! Quick Seals. Howard Schultz notices on a trip to Italy that there are coffee bars on almost every corner. Bam! Starbucks. None of them had a barrel of cash. None of them had a ton of experience. They had a big idea and the will to follow through.

Deutsch speaks about the underdog being led by blind courage. It is an asset because by not knowing where the obstacles are the underdog fearlessly moves forward and conquers each obstacle as it happens. Perhaps if the underdog knew what and where the obstacles were they would not even try. Not knowing what you don’t know, can be a benefit. But he cautions that pure arrogance is a liability.

It reminds me of a quote from John Madden,

“Don’t worry about the horse being blind just load the wagon.”

Donny provides dozens of examples of how others have made a big idea a million-dollar idea. He provides example after example of how people have made success out of nothing. It’s almost impossible not to be inspired by all the success stories in this book.

Deutsch describes and bullet points a seemingly endless list of characteristics which are necessary to succeed. Here are a few of the characteristics that enabled ordinary people to come up with the million dollar idea and become the most successful people in the world:

  • Creativity, innovation and awareness
  • The ability to have a moment of clarity, create a new twist, present to a captive market and come up with a future design
  • You have to have a “Fire in the belly “
  • Hold your nose and jump in
  • Self Educated
  • The biggest payoff is happiness : “Make love not work”
  • Attitude and Presentation: “look the part”
  • Discipline and Courage
  • Failure is your friend. By taking you in a different direction, failure equals a lucky break.

Babe Ruth used to say:

“Every strikeout brings me closer to the next home run.”.

In his article, How Many Times Did Babe Ruth Strikeout? Joe Dorish writes, “Babe Ruth lead the league in strikeouts in 1927 with 89 in 540 at bats. So his strikeout ratio in 1927 was 16.5%. That was the year the Babe hit 60 home runs.”

The lesson is that if you are constantly learning and evolving you can do anything. Donny Deutsch says educate yourself, read every day even if it’s just an hour a day. Take baby steps this might mean it takes years to reach a conclusion, but you necessarily have to take those baby steps. I often remind inventors of the Chinese saying that “the 2000 mile journey starts with the first step”.

People want to have a roadmap on how to get to the end of the journey. But that journey truly has to be made on your own. However, the inspiration and ideas found in this book may help to smooth out some of the rough spots.

If it was as simple as reading a book and following the cookbook instructions everybody would do it. There’s no such thing as a free lunch. You have to pay the price to be successful at anything. The price doesn’t necessarily have to be monetary but certainly you need the passion and the courage to follow through. The bottom line is: everybody’s journey has to be their own.

Donny gives many nuggets of utility and a boatload of inspiration to motivate you and make you believe that you can be that person. He challenges you to ask the question, “why not me?”

About the Author

Donny Deutsch former Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Deutsch Inc, a company with such blue-chip clients like Mitsubishi Motors, Johnson & Johnson, Revlon, Coors, Novartis, Expedia, Monster, and Old Navy. Both Advertising Age and Adweek have honored the $2.7 billion agency as “Agency of the Year.” As the host of the CNBC talk show, The Big Idea with Donny Deutsch, he examined issues in pop culture, business, politics, the arts, and sports.

He is also Managing Partner of the independent film production company Deutsch Open City. In presidential politics he was a lead member of the successful Clinton/Gore communications team. A graduate of the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania, Donny now serves on two boards: UPenn School of Social Work’s Executive Committee and the Board of Directors of the Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research.